SEC Picture No Clearer

The latest round of SEC basketball games has done little if anything to clear up the pecking order as it relates to NCAA Tournament consideration. Seven teams were in the picture, and all seven are still right there.

Florida picked up a must-win over South Carolina, though the Gators certainly made it more interesting than it needed to be. Ole Miss ended its losing streak with a crucial win over Mississippi State. Kentucky overcame some struggles to beat Georgia and Arkansas and Tennessee posted big wins. As a result, here is how the SEC lines up with three until the conference tournament in Atlanta.

Tennessee 24 - 2 11 - 1 # 1
Vanderbilt 22 - 4 7 - 4 # 10
Arkansas 18 - 7 7 - 4 # 34
Miss. State 17 - 8 8 - 3 # 46
Ole Miss 18 - 7 4 - 7 # 43
Florida 20 - 7 7 - 5 # 57
Kentucky 14 - 10 8 - 3 # 73

The top two are lead pipe locks. Both Tennessee and Vanderbilt have been consistently up there throughout the season and that is something the committee seems to take into account. Arkansas is in excellent shape, ahead of Mississippi State after the Bulldogs loss to Ole Miss. The Rebels continue to enjoy a mystifyingly high RPI despite a poor mark in conference play. They have a favorable schedule down the stretch that might let them get to 8-8 before its over.

Then you have the Gators and Wildcats. Both have their relative strengths and weaknesses. Kentucky has the stronger non conference schedule and superior league record. The Gators have a better overall record, no embarrassing non-conference losses and a head to head victory. It may well be that their pecking order in the eyes of the committee is determined by their season-ending game in Lexington on March 9.

Plenty of Rooting Interest Saturday

Arkansas at Kentucky -----
Florida benefits from someone losing this game and loses a bit because someone has to win it. Since the Gators were clobbered by Arkansas, winning a showdown with them over a bid won't be easy. Florida fans should definitely pull for John Pelphrey's Razorbacks.

Ole Miss at LSU ----- The Tigers handed the Gators a painful loss a week or so ago. As a result the least they can do is even the score by beating Ole Miss. The Rebels would be in serious trouble if they needed four wins to pull even in the SEC.

Mississippi State at South Carolina ----- The Bulldogs seem to have a comfortable edge on Florida as far as the NCAA is concerned, but consecutive late season losses would put their resume' under extra scrutiny. Add in the fact that the Gators host State on March 1st and you have an added bonus for UF if the boys from Starkville start to slide.

Tennessee at Memphis ----- It always helps for the league's image to be strong. So take a deep breath and learn the words to Rocky Top.

Sunday, Alabama at Auburn ----- Decide which coach you think should be fired and root for the other one.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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